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Baseball defeats Lobos at MW Tournament


Photo:  CJ Saylor struck out the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to record his 13th save in the win over New Mexico at the Mountain West Tournament.  Courtesy

May 26, 2017 (Alberquerque) - San Diego State scored three late runs, then held off a New Mexico comeback attempt as it defeated the Lobos 9-8 at the Mountain West Tournament being contested this weekend in Albuquerque, N.M. The victory sends SDSU into the tourney title game on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. where one more win would give them the conference title.

After Thursday’s win over Fresno State in less than ideal weather conditions, the Aztecs did not lack for confidence entering the contest against the tournament hosts. The wind continued to blow steadily in Albuquerque, but conditions were a bit milder than the previous day.


San Diego State came out and took the lead immediately with three runs in the top of the first. Alan Trejo opened the game with a single on the first pitch he saw and was followed by a double to right by Chase Calabuig. After an out, Tyler Adkison’s fly ball down the right field line was dropped just inside fair territory to bring home Trejo and keep runners at second and third. David Hensley’s ensuing single to left drove in those runners and staked the Aztecs to the 3-0 advantage.


The visitors added a run in the second inning on leadoff double by Jordan Verdon and RBI single up the middle by Andrew Brown to make it 4-0.


SDSU starter Brett Seeburger cruised through the first two frames, but ran into trouble in the third when he surrendered five runs on four hits as the home side grabbed a 5-4 lead. Four of those runs came on a grand slam by Carl Stajduhar, which was followed by a solo homer off the bat of Matt Villalobos.


The Aztecs eventually re-took the lead with single markers in both the fifth and sixth. The first came on a double by Adkison and another RBI single by Hensley in the fifth. One inning later Verdon and Brown replayed their scoring action of the second inning with a double and run-scoring single up the middle to make it 6-5.


That lead was short-lived, however, as the Lobos tied the contest at 6-6 in the bottom of the same inning.


San Diego state’s game-winning rally came in the top of the eighth. Dean Nevarez singled before Verdon’s fly ball to left center was dropped by center fielder Jared Mang as he attempted to make a running catch. A a fielder’s choice on a bunt by Brown force Nevarez at third, but left runners at first and second with one out.


A double steal moved Verdon and Brown up a base before Trejo doubled to left center to bring home both. Trejo would advance to third on a ground out and score on a wild pitch to give the Aztecs a 9-6 lead.


New Mexico, however, would not go away and responded with two runs in its half of the eighth inning to close to within 9-8. Both of those runs were charged to reliever Jorge Fernandez, who had come on to start the bottom of the seventh. He, in turn, was lifted in favor of Alan Trejo with two on and one out in the eighth. An ensuing double and sacrifice fly scored the two runners before Trejo ended the frame on a grounder to short.


After going down in order in the top of the ninth, San Diego State brought on senior CJ Saylor to close out the contest. It would provide an opportunity for redemption for Saylor, who had surrendered the winning runs on a three-run home run by Mang when the Lobos were victorious in San Diego in late April.


This night would be a different story. As fate would have it, Mang was the first batter Saylor would face and he got him on a swinging strikeout. That was followed by another swinging strikeout by Stajduhar before Saylor ended the contest with a called third strike to Villalobos.


Fernandez would be credited with the victory to improve to 3-1 on the year while the save was the 13th of the season for Saylor, a number that ties him for fourth on the SDSU single-season leader list.


Brown ended up as the Aztecs’ hit leader on the night with three singles, two RBI and a run scored. Four others had two hits each including Hensley (3 RBI), Trejo (2B, 2 RBI, 2 runs scored), Verdon (2 2B, 3 runs scored) and Sheehan.


San Diego State now awaits the winner of Saturday’s Fresno State-New Mexico elimination contest set to start at 12:00 p.m.  An Aztec win tomorrow’s 5:00 p.m. contest against that team would give SDSU the conference title. A loss would mean another game would be played on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. to determine the MW champion.


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